Sustainable access to affordable, high-quality medicines is an important component in all health care systems but remains limited in many African countries. Supply and distribution of medicines are a fundamental aspect of the success of any health system. Disruptions to this supply undermine health outcomes as supply chains have an impact on the availability, cost, and quality of medicines for patients. Common problems associated with the supply and distribution of pharmaceuticals often include poor supply chain management, stock pilfering, insufficient human resources, and limited financing resulting in chronic stock outs. In resource-poor settings where public services fail to meet demand, the private and voluntary sectors are increasingly being called on, prompting some policy makers to consider private mechanisms as alternatives to state-run drug procurement and distribution systems. This study reviews some of the ways in which some countries in Africa organize their private pharmaceutical supply and distribution channels, focusing on three diverse countries: Ghana, Malawi, and Mali. It discusses some of the strengths and challenges associated with such arrangements, as well as relevant options to improve access, availability, quality and affordability of privately supplied pharmaceuticals.